The Boston Celtics looked to win game three to go up 3-0 in the series but fell just short at the buzzer, losing their first playoff game.
The Boston Celtics fell to the Toronto Raptors in game three of their playoff series by a score of 104-103 on Thursday night. OG Anunoby hit the buzzer-beater three in the corner off a pass from Kyle Lowry, giving them their first win against the Cs in the bubble.
The game was back and forth all night, and with only 0.5 seconds on the clock, coach Nick Nurse drew up a brilliant play to get a wide-open three. For the past two games, Anunoby was the most consistent Raptor from distance, shooting 3-5 in game three. A defensive error by Jaylen Brown caused OG to become open in the corner, and all the shamrocks can do now is tip their caps.
As for the Boston Celtics, Kemba Walker led the team with 29 points, including the almost game-winning no-look dime to Daniel Theis at the end of the fourth. Kemba, on a night where others struggled, shot 9-15 from the field and 4-7 from deep, bailing out the rest of the offense with his shot-making ability. He’s an impossible matchup for most of the Raptors, as he used great screens from the Celtics’ bigs to perfection, blowing by anyone that came in his path.
In 40 minutes, Jaylen Brown was productive on both ends of the floor, scoring 19 points on 9-15 shooting from the field while holding Pascal Siakam to only 16 points of his own.
Although he didn’t hit a three, Jaylen carved up the Toronto defense with his mid-range proficiency, driving past their smaller guards before meeting either Serge Ibaka or Marc Gasol at the rim. On the defensive end, he held strong against Siakam in the post, identifying his spin move over and over again. He also finished with team-highs of 12 rebounds and four blocked shots.
Jayson Tatum had an off night, scoring 15 points on 18 shots. Although he didn’t have the best shooting performance, he still recorded nine rebounds and six assists, showing off his improved passing skills once more.
For game four, look for Tatum to shy away from attacking the rim and settle for shots from distance, as he only took four in 39 minutes on Thursday night. Often guarded by Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry, he can simply shoot over them for an easy look at the rim.
Fresh off his heroic performance in game-two, Marcus Smart fell from grace, scoring 11 points on 4-15 from the field and 2-9 shooting from three. He brought his defensive intensity once again but took questionable shots on the offensive side of the ball.
Smart should not be taking the same amount of shots as Walker and Brown, despite how incredible he was in the previous game.
Grant Williams saw the most action off the bench in this one, scoring five points in 18 minutes. He picked up four fouls in that stint, something he’s grown to do more in the playoffs, but held up for the most part on defense.
He provides a switching ability that is valuable against the Raptors’ offense, and made a three, making Toronto start to respect his shot.
Robert Williams was the first big man off the bench once again, finishing with three points and seven rebounds in 12 minutes of action. He missed his first shot of the series but helped create more offensive opportunities with his three assists.
He most definitely has a place in this series but struggled a bit with protecting the rim, as Kyle Lowry had a field day driving to the basket.
When Williams sat, Enes Kanter saw his first playing time in the series, scoring four points in 4 minutes. Head Coach Brad Stevens tried to play the seven-footer in a short stint but got beat in the pick and roll immediately.
Both Williams’ should always be on the floor ahead of Kanter for the Boston Celtics, as they are more stable and quick on their feet on the defensive end.
For Toronto, Kyle Lowry led the team with 31 points on 13-23 from the field in their must-win. Lowry, usually a deadly sniper from downtown, only hit two of his eight three-point attempts in this one, as he abused the Celtics’ big men under the basket.
He used his body type to bully his way into the paint and repeatedly finished successfully. For Game-four, look for the Celtics to not allow Lowry to get a running start to the hoop, allowing for him to get easy layups at the cup.
OG Anunoby and Fred VanVleet supported Lowry on offense, with the former hitting the game-winner, and the latter scoring 25 points while hitting five threes.
Overall, most predicted this series of evenly matched teams would go to six or seven games. Let’s see what adjustments both of these superstar coaches make heading into game-four.
Now the series starts!